MAY 13, 1948
NEW YORK, Wednesday—There is something almost pathetically amusing in the quick effort made by Russia to create the impression that this country's restatement of friendly intentions towards Russia was a United States "proposal" to settle by diplomatic discussion the differences that exist between the two countries.
Russia must stick to what she considers a dignified stand which, in an indirect way, implies that she is aggrieved and that the United States is trying to placate her! I have pointed out before the curious resemblance between Russian diplomatic maneuvers and the maneuvers of a mischievous youngster who, when he gets into trouble, wants to get out of it by putting the blame on someone else and by seeming over-virtuous himself.
The United States has simply emphasized its position, which is that there never has been a time when, if the Russians were willing to seek common ground for agreement, the door was not open for such discussion. Discussions, however, are fruitless when the Russians merely reiterate the same things they have said before and when the other country or countries must reject those things for the same reasons as before.
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The European Recovery Program is an accomplished fact. It is going forward and the United States hopes that it will strengthen the economic and political independence of the Western European democracies. I think the people of this country hope that the day will come when the barriers between the West and the East of Europe will gradually break down, at least on the economic level.
I am convinced that, if the USSR could be persuaded to allow the same free travel within her borders that other nations allow, the results would be extremely beneficial. Unknown things are usually feared. It is safe to assume that most people feel there is something worth hiding when such elaborate precautions are taken to hide it. This is the position taken about the USSR today.
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I sometimes complain that we, who have every reason to be the strongest democracy in the world, do not feel enough confidence in our own strength, and that we become repressive because of this lack of confidence. I suppose, therefore, that a much younger country like the USSR, trying out a new experiment, might also lack confidence in the attitude of its own people at times. That might well be a motive for keeping the flow of travel down, both incoming and outgoing, in the countries in the Eastern area of Europe.
We have much less excuse for lack of confidence in our own institutions, because we are older and more stable. But I think both countries would greatly benefit if we faced the risks that might be involved in free intercourse and if we dealt with facts rather than with suspicions of each other. The only way to bring about that desired attitude is to encourage and facilitate intercourse between the two countries.